The two different novelizations of the animated film Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack, both written by director Yoshiyuki Tomino, have a complicated relationship to the anime production. The better-known Beltorchika Children, based on Tomino's early screenplay for the film, was published as a single volume in February 1988, three weeks before the theatrical debut.
Meanwhile, a serialized novel had been running in Tokuma Shoten's monthly magazine Animage since May 1987 under the title Mobile Suit Gundam Hi-Streamer. This serial is effectively a prequel to the animated film, and by the time it ended in April 1988, it had just reached the point at which the Char's Counterattack movie begins. The first collected volume was published in December 1987 under the Char's Counterattack title. The second and third volumes, released in February and March of the following year, complete the story with a fairly straightforward retelling of the animated film.
These novels were republished in 2002 under their original title (now spelled High-Streamer). The reprint edition includes both the striking original illustrations by Yukinobu Hoshino, and more conventional new artwork by Chimaki Kuori.
On this page I'll share excerpts from the novels that seem particularly noteworthy, along with some general notes on the story.
The following text is copyright © Sotsu • Sunrise.
Translator's Note: The first volume, published in December 1987, collects the first eight chapters of the Hi-Streamer serial published in Animage from May through December of that year. Amuro Ray is now the ace pilot of the Londo Bell unit, which otherwise consists of a crew of amateurs stationed aboard the space cruiser Ra Zaim. The action of these chapters takes place at the refugee colony Sweetwater, where the Londo Bell are investigating an anti-Federation resistance movement called EGUM. Most of the characters and situations in this part of the story are abruptly written out at the start of the second volume, so I've focused mostly on scenes which relate to the continuing characters of Char and Amuro.
As the story begins, the Londo Bell cruiser Ra Zaim has just entered Sweetwater. Londo Bell pilots Amuro Ray and Cunningham Shaw, flying Jeda mobile suits, are targeted by missiles inside the colony. They then capture the civilian EGUM member Alyona Paige.
EGUM leader Zedda Mandira has a brief conversation with Char Aznable. Since this contains little noteworthy information, and has previously been translated by other people, I haven't bothered transcribing it here.
Zedda then attacks the Ra Zaim in his mysterious black mobile suit—later identified as the Gabul Belgson Type Model 2, or Gabul BL2 for short. He engages all four of the Londo Bell's mobile suits and forces Cunningham's Jeda to crash into the colony wall, killing five civilians.
The Londo Bell pilots return to the Ra Zaim and question the captive Alyona. As she and Amuro debate the economic exploitation of the Spacenoids, Alyona suddenly brings up a rumor about Char and his intentions.
"They say that Char—Char Deikun—is preparing to purge the people who still remain on Earth." (1)
"Char Deikun? That's a name I've never heard before."
"The former Char Aznable, or Casval Deikun. He's planning to eliminate the people who exploit the Spacenoids, in order to create an Earth Sphere just for those who live in space. At that point, you Earth Federation Forces will be in his way, right? That's why we're fighting."
"Why don't you try to reform the system from within?"
"Lieutenant..." Cunningham stood up and beckoned Amuro.
"What is it?"
"Don't waste your time with children. We need to get ready."
"You think so? This is the first time I've heard him called Char Deikun. That means Char's become a celebrity among part of the resistance."
"I get it, but so what?"
"This kind of intelligence will be important when we're fighting in the future."
"But... Okay, understood! Lieutenant, I'm going to see to my Jeda."
The Londo Bell deliberately allow Alyona to escape, and Amuro and Cunningham follow her into Sweetwater to find the EGUM's hideout.
"Tall trees, eh?"
Cunningham Shaw, pursuing Alyona, was impressed by the surrounding forest.
"It's because this Sweetwater colony was created by putting together older space colonies. In the One Year War era, this part of the colony was at Side 4. At the sunward end it's connected to a closed colony developed by Zeon, to increase its capacity."
Alyona was heading into the trees, but Amuro didn't lose sight of her as he delivered this explanation. And as he tried to provide an obvious explanation, Amuro was also able to satisfy himself.
Sweetwater was in a completely different airspace from Side 1 and Side 2, on either side of the Moon, where the largest number of space colonies were gathered. Though it lay along the Moon's orbital path, this colony had been constructed all alone in the airspace opposite the Moon. Once there had been a small colony for preparing colony construction, but in order to accommodate an increased number of refugees due to the space wars, colonies partially destroyed in war were put together to construct this new Sweetwater. (2)
Refugees were people without family relationships. The other people living in space (Spacenoids) didn't want such people to be resettled close to the colonies where they lived.
In the case of the Sweetwater colony, the closed colony at the sunward end was connected to an open-type colony at the other end, where sunlight was brought in using mirrors. But since these two colonies had different diameters, it was necessary to counteract the inertial stress at the connecting section, which had been accomplished using perpetually operating apogee motors (rocket engines). As he considered this process, Amuro understood that this colony had become a place where many factors were combined.
"This is no accident. Deliberately constructing a new place where all kinds of people are mixed together, with all kinds of ideas... On Earth, there's the idea of locations haunted by ghosts, but this colony really feels like that kind of place."
"I mean it's full of elements that would produce an anti-Earth Federation government or Neo Zeon movement."
"Ah, I see. But that's like fortune-telling, isn't it? What I don't understand is how all these trees survived the colony destruction." (3)
"Even the old Zeon forces worked to preserve the trees in the destroyed colonies. Everybody knows that plants are beings just like humans."
"Even a dictator like Gihren Zabi of the former Zeon?"
"I wonder if the forests of Earth are like this."
"Yes, I've seen them. In Europe on Earth, after they cut down all the trees, in modern times they made new forests. First they destroy nature, then they realize its importance and restore it. In that sense, humans are stupidly magnificent."
"You're saying that repetition is just human history?"
"It's sad but true."
"There's a town..."
Amid the trees, the forms of buildings were becoming visible in the direction Alyona was heading.
Amuro and Cunningham attempt to infiltrate EGUM, but are exposed by Zedda Mandira and captured. Using Cunningham as a hostage, Zedda forces Amuro to steal a Jeda from the Ra Zaim. By the time Amuro returns, however, Alyona and Cunningham have escaped, and Amuro fights a brief battle against Zedda's black mobile suit instead.
The Ra Zaim prepares to depart Sweetwater and return to Londenion, with Alyona aboard. As it exits the colony, the ship must clear a path through a space minefield, and is then attacked by Zedda Mandira's black mobile suit.
Amuro's Jeda duels Zedda's black mobile suit outside Sweetwater. Zedda's mobile suit is disabled, and Amuro briefly interrogates him, before being recalled to the Ra Zaim following the appearance of an unidentified fleet.
A brief scene introduces Quess Paraya, who is currently in Sarnath, India.
Amuro's Jeda launches from the Ra Zaim to investigate the three ships of the unidentified fleet. Aboard the fleet flagship Rewloola, Captain Lyle notifies Char of the approaching mobile suit.
"A mobile suit is coming from the Ra Zaim."
"Is it going to attack us?"
"Impossible. They must know our numbers. It's just one machine."
"Hm. Is that so..."
Char looked at the numbers shown on the small display next to Captain Lyle.
"Is that so... Let's go and see. Have the Sazabi readied."
"This is between us. Let's just say it's a test of the Sazabi. So you really needed to tell me this privately?"
"I'm asking you, why tell me this in secret?"
"It's one machine, but I thought it was moving strangely. If necessary, I wanted to ask you to make a judgment based on your experience. I'd hate for the Rewloola to make a fuss over a single mobile suit. After all, the crew are still amateurs..."
As he listened to Lyle's arguments, Char sensed something that had made Lyle believe this. Perhaps it was fate, or divine providence, but Char had been given an opportunity in this moment.
"That's a fine decision. Then I'll also go out alone."
Even as he said this, Char Aznable felt it was strange that he was surrendering himself to this moment of opportunity.
"If I lose my life here, then 'the operation' won't carry itself out automatically. But in that case, it's the will of heaven."
He was resolved enough to be dispassionate about this. For the last few years, Char had put all his energy into carrying out 'the operation,' but if he couldn't execute the plan then he could accept that too.
If that was his opponent, then whatever happened, he was prepared to see it as inevitable.
(I wouldn't be satisfied if we didn't settle this sooner or later.)
He had felt that way ever since he returned from the asteroid belt and was reunited with Amuro on Earth. They had become good friends but, at the same time, this was an enemy he could never forgive. This relationship with Amuro, in which both aspects coexisted, had merely grown older with the passing of time, and Char didn't want to leave it unresolved.
He was a fastidious man.
Char proceeds to the pilot suit room, accompanied by his aide Nanai Miguel.
Char and Amuro met on opposite sides of the Principality of Zeon's "war of independence." After Zeon's defeat, Char briefly fled to the asteroid belt, then conspired with Haman Karn and her comrades to raise the flag of Zeon once again. When Char came back to Earth, however, there was an insurrection by an anti-government element of the Earth Federation Forces called the Titans, which Char helped Amuro and his allies eliminate. (4)
This was all because Char wanted to see the internal condition of the Earth Federation government, paving the way for Haman's conquest of Earth. But Haman Karn, a believer in the restoration of Zeon, took action on her own. Concluding that it would be better if the chaos in the Earth Federation government were to continue due to Haman's independent action, Char simply stood back and watched.
As expected, the Earth Federation Forces were exhausted, but they were able to conclude "Haman's crazy war." After this, the Earth Federation government claimed that all Zeon revivalist elements had been eliminated. Craving the restoration of peace, it gave in to idleness. Char had been given time.
The remnants of Zeon's Zabi family, having slipped into the organization of the Earth Federation government, had been waiting for the emergence of someone like Char. In an era when over two-thirds of humanity lived in more than a hundred space colonies, the Earth Federation government continued to manage humanity from the Earth's surface.
"Captain... Where to?"
Nanai Miguel followed Char as he headed to the pilot suit room.
The officer Nanai raised a well-shaped eyebrow. She was a prodigy whom Char had elevated from an employee of the Newtype labs to his tactical officer. Moreover, as a beauty she was flawless, but her misfortune was that she had fallen in love with Char.
"Didn't I say that the Earth Federation Forces would show up when we went to Sweetwater?"
"Yes. The Ra Zaim? Is it Londo Bell?'
"It seems that Amuro Ray of that unit has come to meet me."
"Is this your usual intuition, Captain?'
Nanai was used to such talk from Char. Perhaps it was this kind of sense that had brought on her misfortune.
"I guess so."
Nanai didn't speak as she helped Char put on his pilot suit. She knew that Char wouldn't listen, whatever she said.
"Was that a sigh?"
Char gave a wry smile. He also understood Nanai's state of mind.
"Yes. Why do this? I understand your argument for reconstructing Earth, but why do you hate Amuro?"
"I don't hate him, but I want to fight him."
"Because he's like you?"
Nanai had also put on a pilot suit. Char just stared at her.
"Hmph. It's because he's weak."
"Really? I'd only thought of him as a good comrade to you."
"Perhaps it's distressing to me that he's subservient to the Earth Federation."
"Is that it? Even Amuro Ray could become a prime minister in the future."
"Still, there's never been an example of humanity carrying out an internal reform."
Char attached Nanai's helment to the backpack of her normal suit.
Char and Nanai sortie in his new mobile suit Sazabi, which has been fitted with a temporary test cockpit in its chest.
Only the vibration of the Sazabi's nuclear fusion engine conveyed a faint sense of movement.
"It's barely been a century since humanity genuinely began colonizing space. But there are already many generations among the Spacenoids who think of Earth as just one more star."
"Are you saying that their indifference makes the Earth Federation government self-righteous?"
"Maybe so. That's why I want to remind the Spacenoids of Earth's existence. And in the distant future, when Spacenoids remember Earth as the birthplace of humanity, I don't want to leave them an Earth that's still polluted by Oldtypes. I want to leave them a warm Earth enveloped by the nature of ancient times. And so I can't forgive the arrogance of the people who are monopolizing the Earth. Someone like me is necessary to purge them."
"I understand your feelings, but I don't like what you're doing right now."
Nanai didn't always align easily with Char.
"Why don't you speak like this to the people of Neo Zeon?"
"I can't say that to them. Even if I did, I couldn't make them understand. All they care about is seizing control. In other words, they're the same as the Earth Federation government. Holding power, wanting power, needing to maintain power... Ideas that begin with power will twist everything."
"But if you don't have power, you can't do anything at all."
"That's true. Because there's already somebody exercising power. It's harsh, but the only way to confront them is a show of strength... Humans are so petty. If only you could implant humility into the entire human race with a really powerful psycommu, it wouldn't be a problem."
"Hah. Maybe that would be possible if you wrapped the Earth in psycho-frame?"
Nanai spoke sarcastically.
"So you're going to carry out the Earth Freezing Operation?"
"That's right. Telling fairytale stories is for incompetents. So I'm going to purge the humans beneath the stars that shine in space... those fleas who only stare at the ground."
"Fleas? You mean those jumping things?"
"They say they used to be everywhere. There were philosophers who said that humans were the same kind of stupid creature."
"But these fleas called humanity have eradicated other animals, and are now consuming the whole Earth. Fleas themselves have been exterminated by humans, haven't they?"
"Isn't that stupidly magnificent? Surely that's just proof of humanity's folly." (5)
It wasn't that Nanai Miguel didn't understand Char's grief. But she felt that he was being led too much by his intellect.
(If he were the type who'd go crazy for a woman, then he could be saved, but...)
Having imagined this crude comparison, Nanai realized she didn't have that power, and blushed.
"What is it? Did you remember something funny?"
"N-no... Since you don't like women..."
This was a half-truth.
"That's not so. I'm thinking about serious issues, and then you bring up female problems..."
"No, a thought of my own occurred to me. Then I smiled at my own inability."
"Is that so? You're a woman who should have confidence in yourself, Nanai."
As he spoke, Char enlarged part of his monitor. Dozens of split screens enlarged and displayed the target.
"Is that the enemy?"
The computer graphics showed a magnified composite image of a Base Jabber and Jeda.
"It's a machine from the Ra Zaim."
That was Char's conclusion.
Amuro engages Char's mobile suit. He mistakes the actual Sazabi for a dummy balloon, allowing Char to maneuver behind him. During the following encounter, Nanai is presumably still riding along in the Sazabi, but she doesn't participate in the conversation.
The unfamiliar mobile suit form closed rapidly, and slipped behind Amuro's Jeda. It was a genuine mobile suit.
"The computer is totally useless when it's an unknown new model!"
Even as Amuro cursed, he didn't forget to link the camera's data to the computer.
"Jeda! My performance is overwhelmingly superior!"
At a range of a few kilometers, the radio transmission was clear despite the Minovsky particles. Amid the noise, Amuro heard the voice of Char Aznable, and he was shocked. Had his reunion with this person had been accomplished so easily?
"Char?! You're alive after all!"
"Hah! How could I lose my life in a battle with a woman like Haman Karn?"
"You should talk! You ought to know that boy Kamille Bidan went mad!"
"He was fragile, but that's not a virtue. Look at the masses, Amuro! Do they go mad? No matter what happens, they keep their composure and go on living their lives. Those who believe fragility is a virtue, because of their gifts, will be swallowed up by those masses. That's reality!"
Observing the mobile suit that clung to his back, Amuro realized that he would easily be defeated in a Jeda. (6) The firepower and output of this red mobile suit appeared overwhelming.
"Heh. Why didn't you emerge until now? Were you hiding because you were also swallowed up by the spirit of those masses you talk about?"
As he made this sarcastic remark, Amuro tried to shake off the movements of the red mobile suit.
"Say what you like. I'm tired of humanity's stupidity. That's why I'll destroy the Earth." (7)
Stunned by these words, Amuro turned his Jeda toward the red mobile suit Sazabi.
"What was that?"
"I'm going to eliminate the Earth Federation government and the other people on Earth. Then I'll stake the rebirth of humanity on the Spacenoids."
"Are you joking?!"
"You should understand. This is an era in which humanity must make atonement to Earth and space."
"Humans aren't that arrogant! They die in floods and volcanoes, they're terrified by hurricanes, they're killed by the slightest heat or cold. Such people can't be arrogant towards nature!"
"They're too afraid! So they protect themselves with science and technology not found in nature, and overdo their self-defense. How long a life would modern humans need to be satisfied? They think it's natural to live a hundred years, but that's just the desire of people born within the last two or three centuries. Before that, humans were animals that only lived for fifty years. If humanity can't give up its arrogance, it'll consume the space colonies as well."
"Isn't it true that people live?" (8)
"Don't change the subject, Amuro! Gihren Zabi of the Principality of Zeon killed five billion people, but humanity still outnumbers the total population of the old calendar era. Humanity still hasn't reduced its numbers, and their minds remain rigid. I can't allow this!"
"And so you'll destroy the Earth?"
"Fighting the Titans alongside you was a good education. I realized that, even if you tried to become a politician and make internal reforms, it wouldn't do any good. And now you're just scurrying around within the Earth Federation Forces like a mouse."
For Amuro, this was the decisive issue. He hadn't distanced himself from the Earth Federation government because he still had hopes for internal reform. But just as Americans had a history of not wanting to accept the possession of handguns, humanity could not rid itself of the delusion that it had to maintain armies to deal with potential threats. (9)
"My patience with the people of Earth is exhausted. But I still need some time for that..."
Amuro wasn't laughing. He wanted to believe that this lord whose speech was full of threats and bluster was a different person from the Char he'd met on Earth.
"Do you have any proof that you're really Char Aznable, or Casval Deikun?"
"Match my frequency and look at your monitor!"
Amuro confirmed that the person displayed on his multi-monitor was indeed Char.
"It seems there's no mistake..."
"But in truth, it doesn't matter whether I'm Char or not. In a few hours, my fleet will occupy Sweetwater. I'm well aware of the Ra Zaim's fighting strength. Attacking would be pointless. And there's no need for you to convey my announcement to the Federation government. After I take over Sweetwater, I'll immediately give them a formal notification. What I'm doing now is out of friendship, because I felt I should tell you directly as my longtime rival and comrade."
"How pushy! If you intend to destroy the Earth, then I'm going to stop you."
"Excellent! It's because you're a man with such spirit that you're my friend."
The moment he finished speaking, the monitor image cut off. The red mobile suit in front of him rapidly accelerated, and disappeared amid the light of the stars.
The Londo Bell unit returns to its headquarters at Side 1's Londenion colony. Here the Ra Zaim is reassigned to Luna II, along with Cunningham and Alyona.
Zedda attacks again, and Amuro sorties in a Base Jabber since all the Jedas are occupied. Zedda destroys Amuro's Base Jabber and captures his cockpit capsule.
(1) The term used here, 粛清 (purge), is pronounced the same way as 粛正 (enforce discipline). In the Beltorchika Children novel, and the recording script of the animated film, Char generally uses the second term. The former is used in this novel and in the film's Japanese subtitles. On the whole, we can say the two terms are used interchangeably.
(2) I'm not sure what relationship is implied here between the previous small colony and the newly constructed refugee facility.
(3) The term コロニー潰し (colony destruction) is used in the novel to refer to the attacks on the colonies at the beginning of the One Year War. Later in the novel, and in the animated film, the verb 潰す is frequently used to describe what Char intends to do to the Earth. Compared to the verb 破壊する (destroy) used elsewhere in this passage, 潰す has more of a connotation of "crush," "break," or "ruin," but I don't think this nuance is deeply important.
(4) The description of the Titans as an "anti-Federation" movement may seem strange to viewers of Zeta Gundam, but this is how they're retrospectively described in both this novel and the animated film.
(5) The phrase Char uses here, which I've translated as "stupidly magnificent," is almost exactly the same one previously used by Amuro.
(6) I think the Sazabi is figuratively clinging to Amuro's back here, maneuvering to remain behind his Jeda.
(7) The verb 潰す used here is the same one previously used to describe the destruction of space colonies.
(8) A literal translation of the perplexing line 人が生きるのが、真理ではないというのか？
(9) Your guess is as good as mine on this one!
Translator's Note: Released in February 1988, this volume collects the last four chapters of the Hi-Streamer serial and then continues as a straightforward adaptation of the animated film. As it begins, Amuro is rescued by the newly assigned Londo Bell flagship Ra Cailum, where he is reunited with Bright Noa and introduced to Chan Agi. Cunningham, Alona, Zedda, and the other characters from the previous chapters are largely dropped from the story at this point. Notes on this volume are still pending.
Translator's Note: Released in March 1988, this volume begins with the secret negotiations between Char and the Earth Federation at Londenion, and continues on to adapt the rest of the animated film story. Notes on this volume are still pending.
Mobile Suit Gundam is copyright © Sotsu • Sunrise. Everything else on this site, and all original text and pictures, are copyright Mark Simmons.